Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Phnom Penh Evacuation April 17th

Many people had died. The war had being going for 5 years. There wasn’t any hope of winning it. The city was filling up with refugees who escaped the fighting in the countryside. But now the war was about to end. A cause for celebration?

There was some cheering on April 17th 1975, but it didn’t last long. Cambodia had actually been liberated from the war into something worse.

Khmer Rouge took the capital on the 17th April 1975 and ordered everyone to leave the city straight away. The black pyjama clad soldiers, mostly youths, said the U.S was going to bomb Phnom Penh. The city’s residents were told to only take enough food and clothes for three days, when the bombing was over they could come back. Gunfire emphasised their commands.

Over the next few days the two million people who had been in Phnom Penh had to walk out of it. Refugees who had recently fled to the city, rich families, hospital patients- everyone. And keep in mind April is The Hottest Month of the Year. CLICK HERE TO SEE PHOTOS

But they couldn’t go back to the city after three days. This was the beginning of 3 years, 8 months and 21 days that Cambodia was ruled by the Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot.

Money, schools and religion was abolished. It was to be a classless society where everyone was a farmer. Underfed and overworked people were constantly tired, hungry and often sick.

Kimsoeun was born during this time. His father was one of the many people who died during Pol Pot time. One to two million people died, it’s hard to know exactly.

For more click here : Cambodian Holocaust or here : The end of Cambodia; the beginning of a nightmare.

The Killings Fields movie (1984) shows these events.

A Cambodia girl who was 9 at the time, and another who was 5 survived. You can read their stories in “When Broken Glass Floats” , by Chanrithy Him and
“First they killed my father”, byLoung Ung

And there’s more….

Tears of my Soul by Sokreaksa Himm
Killing Fields, Living Fields byDon Cormack

Year Zero, Francois Ponchaud
Cambodia: Report from a Stricken Land, Henry Kamm
The Tragedy of Cambodian History, David Chandler

And there is heaps more but I'm pretty sure my readers have stopped clicking and reading by now!

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